Must Earrings Match?


Certain things in life should match: shoes, dinner plates, hubcaps, knitting needles. What about earrings? One of my favorite pair of earrings in college was a cowboy boot and hat set–one silver earring of each. In my mind, the two definitely went together, but did not match. So it's probably not too surprising that I love to design non-matching, but still complementary earrings. I especially like designing earrings that are mirror images of one another or whose components are the same, but in reverse order. Or in the case of double-sided elements (the puzzle pieces by Penny Michelle come to mind), I like to design the earrings so that a different side shows in each earring. Non-matching earrings lend a certain funkiness and creativity to an outfit, daring people to take a second look.

Of course, I realize that not everyone thinks the same way. (I once was surprised to see my deliberately non-matching earrings "fixed" in the pages of a magazine!) There are definitely some occasions–business interviews and weddings come to mind–where you might want identical earrings to help you present a more professional or polished image. And you'll certainly be a less tempting target for rude gossip! ("She must have partied too hard last night! Did you see she couldn't even manage matching earrings this morning?")

Free Projects: Girl Power Trio 


Today's free project ("Girl Power Trio") includes instructions for three pairs of earrings, only one of which is an absolutely identical pair.

At left: The original beads from Kandice Seeber (Air and Earth Designs) just out of the box. 

Free Project:  Girl Power Trio (Flirty Floral, Pink Copper Ripple, Sweet Sixteen)


Flirty Floral

Pink Copper Ripple

Sweet Sixteen

The deliberate color variations in the lampwork beads–particularly in the floral pair–are fairly subtle. The differences in the striped pair are most noticeable. The colors are exactly the same in the striped pair, but the proportions are not. One bead leans towards khaki, while the other is definitely more pink. If you've always been very precise about exactly matching earrings, this project might be the one to jolt you slightly out of your comfort zone. (I'm betting the renegade, matching-is-for-sissies beaders on this list won't even notice that the beads are different!)

Meet Lampwork Artist Kandice Seeber

The pink and khaki lampwork beads in "Girl Power Trio" were created by Kandice Seeber of Air and Earth Designs. Kandice Seeber started her creative journey in a fabric shop–something I find very intriguing, given that fabric shops are such wonderful places to get ideas for color combinations. I asked her how she started creating lampwork beads, her favorite color resources, and where she thinks the best place is to sell online. (She's done it all–eBay, Etsy, her own website!) Read the interview.

Bonus Free Project: Bauble Earrings 


If you really want to walk on the wild side, take a look at these non-matching "Bauble Earrings" by Step by Step Beads editor Leslie Rogalski. Notice that even though the earrings do not match, the colors go together and the size of the earrings are almost identical. This design works in part because of the fun Lucite beads–the non-matching design just underscores the playfulness of the components. This would be a more difficult look to pull off with classic, traditional materials like white pearls. (Difficult, but not impossible!)

Free Project:  Bauble Earrings by Leslie Rogalski

What do you think? Should earrings match? Do your customers feel the same? (In other words, do non-matching earrings sell to anyone besides me?) Please share your comments on the website–and have a wonderful weekend! 


Free eBook
Making Jewelry with Beading Daily
How to Make Earrings: Five Free Jewelry Projects

This free earrings ebook, Making Jewelry with Beading Daily: How to Make Earrings: Five Free Jewelry Projects, includes five earring patterns that use a range of techniques (simple stringing, wirework, simple metalwork, seed bead netting and fringe) and a variety of materials (silver, copper, seed beads, crystals, pearls, gemstones). Both beginners and more experienced jewelry makers will find at least one beaded earring design that will inspire them to catch the handmade earring craze!

Michelle Mach shares free beading projects and tips every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle (including suggestions for future free projects), please share them on the website. Thanks! 

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Beading Daily Blog

About Editor

I am the editor of Beading Daily.  My designs have appeared in a variety of publications, including Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Beadwork, and other publications.  If you have a great suggestion for Beading Daily, or just want to show off your latest project, send me an email!

2 thoughts on “Must Earrings Match?

    I love the non-matching bauble earrings by Leslie Rogalski, but I would probably make them to match. Make 2 of each and then they could be mixed or worn as a matching pair.

    Comment by: Victoria K | April 4, 2008

    I had made beaded zipper pulls for our guild bazaar. One of the ladies bought six of them (all different) and then asked me if I could make them into earrings. She never wore matched earrings! It really worked for her!

    Comment by: | April 4, 2008

    Hey, even dinnerplates don’t have to match! Or socks, or… We are just trained by left brained people that everything needs to match. Right brainers, arise!!

    Comment by: freebird | April 4, 2008

    I am of an age where, in my teen years, it was definitely cooler to have non-matching earrings. A shoulder duster with draped chains to a cuff with more hanging chains on one side and a stud on the other (if you even had the other ear pierced!) was totally awesome. I tend more toward symmetry, so I would usually make a matching earring without the attached cuff for the “off” side if I was going to wear them myself.

    Comment by: Lynn D | April 4, 2008

    Earrings can be even similar to match a necklace but not exact. I do not struggle to match exact but to make the second seem like the first as I hate to do things twice.

    Comment by: Sally M | April 4, 2008

    There is more fun in the not matching, but I have run across many matchy matchy people in my life and it literally drives them nuts not to have something JUST SO!So for me I stick to the not so matchy and I make myself a happy camper!

    Comment by: Mary G | April 4, 2008

    There are times when it is fun not to match. But I am a devoted matcher of pearls, especially. I’ll sit for long periods of time in intense light matching pearls by color, size, and surface. Once I went to a pearl wholesaler to buy some pairs of pearls. The man handed me a big bag of loose pearls and said, “Here, match for yourself, I’ll be back in half an hour.” When he came back and saw my matched pairs he said, “Do you want a job?” There is a certain satisfaction in matching things.–Kelli P.

    Comment by: | April 4, 2008

    I’ve made a lot of mis-matched earrings featuring usally the same beads just arranged differently, and many times I’ve had buyers ask me if I could “fix” the earrings. They don’t “get” that they were designed that way on purpose. Still, others do like them and so I just keep making them. If nothing else, they are a conversation starter.

    Comment by: Debby G | April 4, 2008

    Not matching is cool sometimes, but to me, it depends on the way the pattern goes. Since I am a teenager, I’m kind of fussy about how my jewelry looks…and so are my friends. However, if it looks nice, nobody really cares if it matches or not!

    Comment by: Karuna M | April 4, 2008

    Knitting needles “should” match? Not necessarily. Using non-matching needles can make for an interesting knitted pattern, and sometimes, using non-matching needles helps obtain the right gauge. The fun in using unmatched needles is in being “outside the box,” as it is in an unmatched pair of earrings. It’s all about the experimenting.

    Comment by: M C | April 4, 2008

    I think it is great to make nonmatching earrings. I have made several pair, and unless you make them drastically different, people rarely notice anyway.

    Comment by: | April 4, 2008

    For me, I like earrings that mismatch if the difference is quite noticeable but complementary (in either/or: theme, size, proportion or colour). Otherwise, if there’s barely a difference, it just feels like something is missing or wrong about it.

    Comment by: Donna W | April 4, 2008

    I loved Leslie’s Bauble earrings and, though they might not “match”, they make a wonderful “pair”. Two identical items waste an opportunity for creativity.

    Comment by: Robin L | April 4, 2008

    My best friend had a pair of hoops in college I coveted – a pair of hoops where one was triangular and one was square. Really cool.

    Comment by: Diane E | April 4, 2008

    I love non-identical (as opposed to “non-matching,” which conjures up visions of my ex-husband’s taste in clothing) earrings and have made and bought them for decades. As an artist who has painted everything from shoes to furniture to people, I love contrast and diversity – which explains the purple hair.

    Comment by: nancyb | April 4, 2008

    I wore a lot of non-matching earring in the 80s. I would actually share the cost of cool pair of elaborate earrings with a friend, and we’d each take one. We’d wear a stud in the other ear. Now I have several of these wild single earrings I no longer wear, but they make great Christmas ornaments!

    Comment by: | April 4, 2008

    I love the idea of non matching ear rings. I have a wonderful ditsy friend who has an assymetrical haircut and she only ever wears ONE stylish drop ear ring – usually an absolute stunner with a huge bead.

    Comment by: Sue F | April 4, 2008

    As an artist, I consider “close enough” to be a match. Its easy to make two earrings the same, trying to make two compliment each other without being the same, now..That is art !!

    Comment by: Nadean B | April 4, 2008

    How about a contest on this subject? Count me in !

    Comment by: Nadean B | April 4, 2008

    Mismatched earrings are fun if the design works (like the bauble earrings). Sometimes, mismatching, like any kind of asymmetry, can look more like a mistake than a deliberate choice. The designs in today’s article are great examples of how to make it work.

    Comment by: Jan G | April 4, 2008

    I hadn’t really thought about non matching earrings before but it would certainly be a good idea for using up beads that don’t match but complement each other

    Comment by: Carollyn C | April 4, 2008

    Most customers like the “matchy, matchy” pairs of earrings. But it’s fun to go the non-traditional route with complimentary pairs. They appeal to a definite, self-assured extroverted individual. In 500 Earrings by Lark Press, one jeweler made half a dozen or so themed earrings that none matched, but any could be worn with one another. The collection was very effective. I like the suggestion of a contest!

    Comment by: Pat K. T | April 4, 2008

    I have one pair of deliberately mis-matched earrings where the design is simply upside down in the second earring. Inevitably, when I wear them, people ask: Do you know your earrings don’t match?

    Comment by: Sandra D | April 4, 2008

    I think it depends on the person and the earrings. Ones like the Bauble Earrings pictured above work. For me they do not have to be an exact match, close is good.

    Comment by: Rose Marie Heard H | April 4, 2008

    I have a customer who comes to my shop & makes earrings – Alike gemstones but different designs in each ear. For example- several amethyst chip beads, 2 round silver beads & a lapis triangle bead for one ear — the other ear has one Amethyst Square, round lapis beads & tiny silver bicone beads.

    Comment by: Dianne D | April 4, 2008

    I’ve always leaned toward non-matching earrings – I’m a bit off-centered, my husband would say. At craft shows I am always drawn to the balanced, but different earrings. They are so much more interesting!

    Comment by: Karen N | April 4, 2008

    Love asymmetrical anything. Why be normal??????

    Comment by: Tammy V | April 4, 2008

    Mismatched earrings are not new I am 75 years old and have been wearing them for years. I have bought them mismatched. and if I lose an earring. I find one that is compatible for the other ear. I have gotten compliments over the years. Designing Leezard.

    Comment by: lee m | April 5, 2008

    I love you unmatched earrings! That brings to mind another thought about jewelry matching. Should your earrings, necklace and bracelets match? No! It drives me nuts when I design a necklace based on the beads themselves and someone asks, “Can you make some earrings a bracelet to match?”. I say they don’t have to exactly match. Sometimes the beads don’t work for earrings or a bracelet. Just like the rule that you can’t wear silver earrings and a gold necklace. Who says you can’t? I say “go for it”!

    Comment by: | April 5, 2008

    Love non-matching earrings…sun and moon, coyote and moon, long and short, etc. Makes a good conversation starter….

    Comment by: Sue M | April 5, 2008

    The first project I was commissioned to do was to make some ear-rings to match a necklace bought in Morocco, North Africa. I made three unmatched ear-rings.

    The recipient was delighted as she now has three sets of ear-rings to match the necklace.

    Comment by: Norman G | April 6, 2008

    I have begun making earrings is sets of 3 – two of the earrings match, and the third one is just a bit different. Then you can choose which pair to wear – the matched or the silghtly mis-matched!

    Comment by: Rose A | April 6, 2008

    I am loving all these comments and great ideas. I LOVE earrings that do not match but definitely go together. They do make people take notice and I think they are very creative! They are also very practical because, inevitably, you always seem to lose a favorite one and then what? If you already made a spare that mis-matches, you are still ok! kay o

    Comment by: kay o | April 6, 2008

    I love Rose A’s comment about making 3 earrings – I’ll have to try that. I have several pair of unmatched earrings, althought the majority are matched. My favorite pair came from an art gallery – one side is a smaller wire wrapped bead and the other is a longer more elaborate wire and bead earring. Whenever someone mentions I have 2 different earrings I say I know and I paid a lot to have them look that way. Many customers like unique earrings.

    Cindy C

    Comment by: Cindy C | April 6, 2008

    Many times when I use multiple shapes and colors in a necklace, I contine with mix matched multiple shaped and colored earrings. I usually sell those mix matched earrings way before I even sell the necklace!

    Comment by: Cindy C | April 8, 2008

    It depends on your style but I prefer earrings that match. Very few people can pull it off with non-matching earrings – and in that cases, why not get 2 pairs of complementary earrings and mix & match?

    Comment by: Gina B | April 9, 2008

    I love the idea of non-matching earrings, and I definitely don’t mind the different hues of the beads, but I don’t think I could bring myself to wear two totally different earrings!!

    Comment by: Rachel P | April 12, 2008

    I love the idea of non-matching earrings, and I definitely don’t mind the different hues of the beads, but I don’t think I could bring myself to wear two totally different earrings!!

    Comment by: Rachel P | April 12, 2008

    My mom started me on mix matched dinner plates and wine glasses! She has a whole collection of each and now so do I. But she was an artist too! Now it’s fashionably chic! So I love doing my earrings that way.

    Comment by: Cindy C | April 23, 2008

  2. I made a pair of unmatched earrings consisting of wirework hearts of various sizes, shapes and orientations, all in silverplate. I’ve received more compliments about these than about anything else I’ve made. Non-matching earrings, at the very least, make people look twice. 😉

    Lee B.